"Shopping is boring," says ShopSavvy CEO John Boyd.
His company is working with Capital One to turn the stale process of buying a product off the shelf into an eventful experience built around a mobile wallet.
"I once went to Turkey and couldn't believe the merchants at the bazaar there, shouting out offers and making deals," he says. "We want to create that kind of excitement through the mobile app."
ShopSavvy's technology allows consumers to scan a product's bar code with their phone's camera to get a better price. Consumers who link a Capital One credit card can redeem these offers as statement credits when using the card in the mobile wallet. Some deals provide the option for the consumer to swipe the issuer's plastic card, whereas others only require the use of the ShopSavvy app.
"A shopper needs deals and offers that are super-relevant right then and there when looking at products," Boyd says. "We were interested in how existing credit cards could be used in that way."
Capital One cardholders register their card with the ShopSavvy mobile wallet by providing basic credit card information, an e-mail address, phone number and shipping address. Offers appear when the user begins scanning products or performing searches on a particular brand or category.
In addition to product-specific offers tailored to the consumer’s spending habits, Capital One provides a $20 rebate on a customer's first purchase of $40 or more when using the issuer's card within the ShopSavvy wallet.
The ShopSavvy mobile application relies on bar-code scanning technology and price comparison features. Rivals such as Google Wallet, which was launched alongside the Google Offer system, use Near Field Communication technology instead.
“There was a lot of pressure on ShopSavvy to develop NFC technology, but we didn't feel that NFC necessarily made it a better shopping experience for the consumer," Boyd says. "Credit cards have been around a long time, and we wanted something that would rely on existing technology."
The ShopSavvy wallet provides product pricing from more than 40,000 retailers, and the Capital One deal covers Walmart, Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom and JC Penney, among others.
"We have a lot of enthusiasm on this deal with Capital One because of the larger merchants involved," Boyd says.
San Francisco-based ShopSavvy operates only as the "pocketbook" storing product information, coupons and payment card information, in contrast to how Google Wallet operates as the merchant of record. The card issuer handles the payment from the ShopSavvy wallet.
The Capital One and ShopSavvy system serves as an example of the way mobile commerce will operate for the foreseeable future — with the phone as the shopping device, and the plastic card as an optional payment device, says Richard Oglesby, senior analyst and mobile pay expert with Boston-based Aite Group.
"This is the best way for banks to play in mobile commerce today," Oglesby says.
However, over the long haul, merchants may not view the system as the best approach in terms of enhancing relationships with their customers, Oglesby adds.
"Merchants may prefer to apply a discount at the point of sale and take credit for it at that time," rather than have a discount simply applied to a customer's card account statement, Oglesby says.
In many cases, no information will flow back to the merchant about what was purchased because a particular discount may simply show as $10 off for spending $100, he adds.